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Spooky characters stand in front of the Luna Park sign
Photograph: Supplied

Things to do in Sydney this weekend

Arty bites, live music, al fresco dining and so much more.

By Maxim Boon and Divya Venkataraman
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Ooo-OOO-ooooh. It's offically spooky season, and we can't wait for Sydney's streets to overflow with ghouls and ghosts and sexy cats. Check out this Halloween bonananza at Luna Park, say 'Cheers!' with some crocs at this zoo party, or brew up some potions at this cocktail mixing class.

P.S. Make sure to stick to appropriate hygiene and physical distancing measures when you go out, as laid out by the WHO and the Australian Department of Health.

RECOMMENDED: The best long lunch spots in Sydney.

Find the best things to do this weekend

Gladesville Mental Hospital
Photograph: CC/Frederick Manning

1. Check out these spooky sites to visit in Sydney

Things to do Walks and tours

The first rule in any spooky situation is to not deny the existence of ghosts – they're always the first to be throttled by an apparition. So, with open minds and willing spirits, head out and explore Sydney’s most haunted sites (by night, of course). These former asylums, abandoned roads, converted gaols and chilly tunnels will give you maximum thrills. 

Cinnamon scrolls from Cinnabon
Photograph: Creative Commons

2. Order Cinnabon scrolls right here in Sydney

News Restaurants

While we're not wholly converted to the more-is-more tenet that underpins much of American chain food outlet culture, we can gladly get around the sticky-sweet, more-ish cinnamon scrolls that Cinnabon is famous for. After the US chain opened up its first Australian store in Brisbane (rude, but okay), followed by another store in Mt Gravatt, it has finally decided that Sydneysiders and NSW residents all over can have a taste of its sweet, sweet buns. Order at Cinnabon.

 

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Man painting on a canvas
Photograph: Supplied/Edward Woodley

3. Check out the local artist collaborations on the newly revamped Gucci store

News Style & Shoppng

One of the most recognisable mononyms in Italian design, Gucci needs no introduction, even well outside of the fashion set. Now, the almost one-hundred-year-old brand has recruited local creatives to help revamp its flagship store in Sydney’s CBD. Curator of Sydney's China Heights gallery and artist Edward Woodley was commissioned to create a set of bold, striking artworks for the store – you can check his pieces out there now. 

Croctail Bar pop-up
Photograph: Supplied/Wild Life Sydney Zoo

4. Get on the cocktails with a croc

Things to do Wild Life Sydney Zoo, Darling Harbour

You can get a primal thrill over tipples and tapas at this pop-up Croctail Bar, heading underground at Darling Harbour’s Wild Life Sydney Zoo. Get up close and personal with Rocky, a real-life saltwater croc measuring in at more than four metres long. Your ticket includes your first drink and a hands-on animal encounter of the reptillian variety.

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‘A Terrible Beauty’ by Tania McMurty on the Pier at Q Station
Photograph: Supplied/Les Sculptures Refusées

6. Celebrate Sculpture by the Sea's rejects at this open air exhibition

Art Sculpture and installations Q Station, Manly

In a nutshell (a seashell?), Les Sculptures Refusées showcases the 'rejects' from Sculpture by the Sea. Some of Australia’s best sculptors – who have previously shown, or just missed out on exhibiting in Sculptures – will be on show at this open air exhibition situated at the historic Q Station in Manly. 

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Hands reaching for plates on a table
Photograph: SuppliedChin Chin

7. Settle in for Archie Rose x Chin Chin yum cha

Restaurants Chin Chin, Surry Hills

Sydney's spoilt for choice when it comes to spots to indulge in hearty, comforting yum cha on a weekend – and your decision just got even more difficult. Hospo heavyweights Archie Rose and Chin Chin have just partnered up for a 'gin-spired' version of the tradition – if ever there was any doubt that a little hair of the dog was the only way to properly recover.

Plate of cannoli
Photograph: Supplied/La Cannoleria

8. Get some of Melbourne's best cannoli delivered to you

News Restaurants

Boutique desserterie La Cannoleria, a place people once – in the Beforetime – flew across state borders to visit, is now delivering to Sydney (and all around the country) thanks to a new collaboration with gourmet grocer, Co-Lab Pantry. Plus, DIY Cannoli kits are available in six large or twelve small shells, with a filling of ricotta, crushed pistachio and icing sugar ($24 per kit). 

 

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Lindy Lee's bronze, liquid-like globule sculpture 'Unnameable’
Photograph: Anna Kucera

10. Check out Lindy Lee's exhibition at the MCA

Art Galleries Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks

After months of lying dusty, the MCA is back in a big way, and it's fully embracing the new normal, throwing focus on Australian artists. Lindy Lee: Moon in a Dew Drop celebrates the Australian-Chinese artist’s genius, nimbly dancing through four decades of jaw-dropping creativity crossing mediums and cultures. A new piece of public art created by Lee, the mesmerising ‘Secret World of a Starlight Ember, now adorns the Circular Quay forecourt.

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Scott Marsh’s portrait of Adam Briggs 'Salute of gentle frustration'
Photograph: Supplied/AGNSW

11. Check out the Archibald Prize finalists for 2020

Art Galleries Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney

The finalists for this year have been announced, giving a glimpse into a colourful cross-section of contemporary Australian culture. Yoshio Honjo has depicted celebrity chef Adam Liaw wrestling with a bream in a traditional Japanese art style. Street artist Scott Marsh has depicted his mate and the many-hat-wearing rapper, comedian and Indigenous activist Adam Briggs in his signature style. And previous Archibald winner Wendy Sharpe has turned out a striking portrait of Magda Szubanski as a forlorn version of her netball-playing alter-ego Sharon Strzelecki, set against red flames. The doors will open on the exhibitions from Saturday, September 26, and will show until January 10, 2021.

Person holding a terrarium
Photograph: Supplied/Little Succers

12. Build your own terrarium at this pop-up studio

Things to do Around Surry Hills, Surry Hills

For those born without the gift of a green thumb, Little Succers' range of cute, deliverable DIY terrariums featuring hardy succulents were a godsend. While in-person classes were halted for much of the year due to restrictions, you can now book in to the build-your-own-terrarium bar at Little Succers' Surry Hills studio again.

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Rood Food at the Imperial Erskineville
Photograph: Supplied/The Imperial Erskineville

13. Nibble on naughty snacks at the Imperial

Things to do The Imperial Hotel, Erskineville

After shantaying back from lockdown with a bang with The Priscilla’s Experience, the Imperial Hotel in Erskineville is back with its X-rated drag 'n’ dine experience, Rood FoodThis multi-course dinner paired with an adults-only drag revue in the Impy’s Priscilla’s Restaurant is not for the faint of heart (BYO pearls to clutch). Get the foreplay started with a ‘pussy pâté’ (a gaping valley of vegan cashew pâté with black moss) or ‘bring back to the bush’ with a salmon ceviche served with coconut vinaigrette and ‘shuck-you-lents’.

A man takes a photograph of a hue projection of Van Gogh's  'Sunflowers'
Photograph: Supplied

14. Check out Van Gogh Alive

Art Digital and interactive Royal Hall of Industries, Moore Park

Blockbuster exhibition Van Gogh Alive has so far graced Rome, Berlin, Singapore and more. It finally touches down in Australia, just a little off course. Originally intended for Melbourne, their unfortunate lock lockdown loss is our gain. The vast space of the Royal Hall of Industries, next door to the Entertainment Quarter, will bring van Gogh's work alive in a way that’s never been seen before. Housing screens and projections with a combined surface area of more than 30 IMAX screens, the paintings will ripple across them like light dappled on the surface of water.

 

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French toast with nuts on top
Photograph: Supplied/Mayflower

15. Have Ferrero Rocher French toast for brunch

News Restaurants

We're ardent believers in the fact that chocolate should be enjoyed at any hour of the day – every hour of the day – but the Mayflower's new Ferrero Rocher French toast is taking things to a new level. It's made with Valrhona Guanaja dark chocolate – a decadent mix of 70 per cent cocoa – and blowtorched to create a crisp brulée topping. The dish is then topped with chopped hazelnuts, sour cream, and served with a side of juicy, summery grilled peaches.

Woman dressed in robes pouring a liquid into a cauldron.
Photograph: Supplied/The Wizards Cauldron

16. Try out this magical potion-making experience

Things to do Wonderland, Potts Point

Channel the powers of your coven idol, from Sabrina to Hermione and any of the kids from Wizards of Waverly Place, and brew devilish concoctions in your cauldron – but not before you implore the skills of dark sorcery to unlock your potion ingredients in an escape room style challenge.

 

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The Collaroy
Photograph: Supplied

17. Sip by the water at one of Sydney's best waterfront bars

Bars Cocktail bars

Luckily, for those of us who will never scale the Everest heights of this city's lucrative (read: ludricrous) real estate ladder, there are plenty of bars to drown our sorrows. Plenty of very good bars, in fact, many of which are by the sea. Check out our favourites. 

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dish that appears to be logs with fire
Photograph: Supplied/Nel

19. Try this Disney-themed degustation

Restaurants Nel, Sydney

Slide on your glass slippers and get ready for a feast that will leave you feeling happily ever after. Affordable fine dining favourite Nel has reopened its doors for physically distanced dining and it's inviting you to experience return of a Disney-themed degustation. ‘Once Upon a Time’ involves eleven dishes with a nostalgia-inducing creative touch. 

Untied cocktail
Photograph: Alana Dimou

20. Book in for soul brunch on this Barangaroo rooftop

Bars Pubs Barangaroo

This modern Australian rooftop bar located smack bang in the middle of Barangaroo is all about slinging tropical cocktails in an open-air environment. On Saturdays, Untied hosts a Southern-inspired 'Brunch with Soul', featuring live soul singers across two sittings, at 11am and 2pm for $79 per person. On Sundays, things get a little more plant-based, with an all-vegan bottomless brunch on Sundays across the same sitting times, for $69. It's enough to entice even your most carnivorous friends. 

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People painting on canvas and drinking wine.
Photograph: Supplied

21. Paint and sip with Cork and Canvas

Things to do Classes and workshops Cork and Canvas Crows Nest, Crows Nest

Cork and Canvas are inviting us back into the studio again. That’s right, you can dip your brush and wet your whistle in public once more at their Crows Nest and Darlinghurst sip and paint studios, with classes having started up again in early June. Most classes run from Wednesday through Saturday nights, with afternoon sessions on Sundays and some Saturdays, starting at $55 including materials (just BYO wine and snacks). 

Garie Beach in the Royal National Park
Photograph: CC/Dimitri Koussa

22. Check out the best national parks to explore near Sydney

Attractions Parks and gardens

Cities are amazing, but every now and then, it feels good to slow down, escape the urban jungle and get back to nature. Fortunately, you won’t have to travel very far to find yourself surrounded by verdant greenery and soothing solitude as you explore one of many national parks that can be found on Sydney's fringes. Next time you need a break from the pace of city living, we suggest you take a trip to one of these lush and leafy retreats within 100km of the CBD. 

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Jacaranda tress at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Photograph: Destination NSW

23. Wander around a green space

Attractions Parks and gardens

Whether you're looking to go for a run, walk your dog, have a sedate picnic or just take a break from your four walls, these are the parks to visit. Remember to continue to practice physical distancing as much as you can while you're outdoors. 

Diner with people inside
Photograph: Supplied/Blacktown Skyline Drive In

24. Check out Blacktown's drive-in cinema

News City Life

The Sky Line Drive In in Blacktown is open again to the public, with a whole season's worth of cinematic programming to keep you coming back for more. Blacktown's drive-in cinema will be screening a wonderful mish-mash of the best blockbusters, cult classics and throwback family flicks – including Frozen II, The Goonies, The Invisible Man, Birds of Prey, Grease and more. The drive-in cinema will be open Thursday through to Sunday each week. 

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